2015 NBA Mock Draft 1.0 (first round)

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Updated: May 21, 2015
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Now that the draft order is offically set, we can now get into our first full mock draft. From now until draft day, teams will bring in guys for workouts and surprise prospects will start rising and falling from the top. As for now, here are our first-round predictions.

 

1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns 

It’s a close call between Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor, but ultimately it’s the things you can’t teach that will make Towns the No. 1 pick. His athleticism will make him an ideal pick-and-roll player, and his post game is good enough now to still be productive. In Minnesota he fills an immediate need by clogging up the middle for the NBA’s worst defense, and with Kevin Garnett in his ear, he’ll have a great mentor to maximize his defensive potential. Towns may never have the offensive game that Okafor has, but his ability to come in and become a defensive anchor could mean a lot more to Minnesota.

2. Los Angeles Lakers: Jahlil Okafor

Okafor is by-far the most polished scorer at the center position. He will immediately be able to transition that to the next level. A lot has been made about his lack of shot-blocking ability, but he’ll be smart enough to get around that by gaining good position defensively, and using length to alter shots. His main con will be his inability to shoot free throws. When games get tight, teams will use that to effectively limit his team’s offense. In Los Angeles, he’ll pair up with Julius Randle — who will be returning from injury — to form an interesting duo in the frontcourt for years to come. Both can be big-time scorers, and with the emergence of Jordan Clarkson along with Kobe Bryant coming back, the Lakers now have a solid foundation of youth on their team.

3. Philadelphia Sixers: D’Angelo Russell 

He’s an ultimate combo guard who can play either the 1 or 2. Russell has a high IQ, and smooth offensive game that will transition to the next level. He will need to work on defense, specifically defending the pick-and-roll, which most guards are constantly attacked with. His ability to create for himself, and others is a rarity in this league, and would be a welcomed addition to just about any team. This a no-brainer for Philadelphia, he fills an immediate need, and with Dario Saric reportedly coming to the league this season, and Joel Embiid set to return, it’s time to start aiming for wins.

4. New York Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay 

Stop crying Knicks nation. You aren’t getting Okafor, but you’re still in the running for one of the most underrated players out there. Mudiay is the best pure point guard in the draft. He showed some great intangibles in China, staying with the team the whole season and working his way back into a prominent role after an injury. He’s a big guard, super athletic for his position and can absolutely break down a defense. People have their doubts because of the overall talent level in China, but keep in mind that, even in the NCAA, these top prospects aren’t going up against much better competition. He has a lot of John Wall in his game, including the early turnover problems, but it’s going to be a long rebuild for the Knicks, and this will be a good start.

5. Orlando Magic: Willie Cauley- Stein

Cauley-Stein is a great rim protector who runs the floor well, and has the ability to defend on the perimeter — which is huge in a pick-and-roll heavy league. He’s extremely limited offensively, but his elite defense makes him a sure lotto pick. With the backcourt already set for the future, and still the hope of retaining Tobias Harris, the Magic could complete their starting five by adding a defensive juggernaught. With Elfird Payton and Victor Oladipo already known as fierce defenders, the addition of Cauley-Stein in the middle could make them a surprise team next season. I’m sure Tom Thibodeau wouldn’t mind that at all; if he were to become their next head coach.

6. Sacramento Kings: Kristaps Porzingis

He’s a legit 7-footer who has a very polished offensive game and seems to be more comfortable playing on the wing. Porzingis is an average on-ball defender, but a good weakside defender who can cover a lot of ground, and does pretty well against the pick-and-roll. His shooting and offensive IQ will get him on the floor, but his lack of post game at his size, and small frame, will get him bullied in the post at the next level. Sure, the Kings would love Mudiay to fall to them, but with a thin frontcourt Porzingis would be a great value pick. He’ll be able to stretch the floor, and provide mismatches because of his size. He’ll also allow Kings coach George Karl to get very creative with his lineups. As he grows into his NBA body, he’ll become more versatile defensively.

7. Denver Nuggets: Mario Hezonja

He has great height, and the body to be a prototypical small forward. Hezonja also has a great jump shot and can excel as a spot-up shooter early in his career as he learns how to create for his own shot consistently. He can still can be a bit of a ball hog, who doesn’t have a complete feel for the game, but that will improve with experience. After letting go of Arron Afflalo, the Nuggets seem ready to embrace the rebuild and are in good shape already. The addition of Hezonja gives them another defensive presence on the wing, and provides them with a unique blend of young, and veteran talent.

8. Detroit Pistons: Stanley Johnson 

Johnson has the body and wingspan to come into the league as an elite defender. He has great instincts and hands, and plays passing lanes well. His big body allows him to get to the hole and finish with contact. Johnson does tend to have tunnel vision when driving to the basket, and will need to improve on his jumper to become a consistent threat offensively. Detroit needs a talented wing player, and Johnson will fill an immediate need. He won’t be asked to create much because Stan Van-Gundy likes his point guards running the show, but the spacing in the NBA will really help his ability to contribute on the offensive end.

9. Charlotte Hornets: Justise Winslow

He really came into his own offensively during the NCAA tournament. Winslow is very athletic, and is a great defender on the ball. He’s shown the ability to create for himself offensively, specifically in the pick-and-roll, but may not get as many opportunities early in the season. Look for his offense to come primarily in transition until he gets comfortable enough to handle the ball. In Charlotte, he’ll be a welcomed addition after the Lance Stephenson project, and with a year or two developing as a rotation guy, he could end up becoming Kemba Walker’s backcourt mate.

10. Miami Heat: Devin Booker

Miami needs a shooter at the 2-guard spot, and that’s exactly what Devin Booker will provide. Though Miami has a lottery pick, they are pretty set offensively with Goran Dragic set to re-sign, and Chris Bosh returning from injury. Booker will be able to come off the bench and play to his strength, which is stretching the floor and using his IQ to navigate for easy baskets. Booker will be the much needed sixth man the Heat are missing, as he slowly learns from the man he’ll most likely replace in Dwyane Wade.

11. Utah Jazz: Myles Turner

Turner already proved he’s an excellent weak-side defender and great shot-blocker. He has shown the ability to shoot from beyond the arc, midrange and has showed off a bit of a step-back jumper. He still is yet to have any real consistent offensive moves he can go to, but his potential is too much to pass up. The Jazz have young talent at just about every position, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they traded this pick. However, if they keep it, they’ll just acquire the best player on the board.

12. Indiana Pacers: Sam Dekker

Dekker has great size, a high IQ and can stretch the floor with an impressive shooting touch. He also has an active body that moves well off the ball. If he can stay on the floor defensively, he could make an immediate impact in the NBA. In Indiana, he’ll fill an immediate need as a shooter, and could potentially become a starter to help open the floor for Paul George.

13. Phoenix Suns: Kelly Oubre 

He underachieved as a freshmen at Kansas, but has a ton of potential. He has great size and defensive potential to play either wing spot. Oubre will need to work on his inconsistent jumpshot, and creating for himself, but he has all the tools to be a two-way player. The Suns need more of a prototypical shooting guard after their point-guard hoarding experiment failed. Oubre could make a great tandem with Eric Bledsoe for years to come.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jarell Martin 

Martin has an NBA body, he’s athletic and has great explosion. He showed he has offensive talent and can score in a variety of ways. He will need to engage himself more defensively, and make smarter decisions with the ball in his hands. He has all the tools to correct his weaknesses, and in the meantime will get to play to his strengths on the Thunder’s bench. Can play the 3 or 4 at the next level.

15. Atlanta Hawks: Trey Lyles 

Lyles has a smooth offensive game and can do just about everything at the 4 position from facing up, shooting mid-range jumpers and occasionally stretching it beyond the arc. He was really limited in the Kentucky system because of all the talent they had on the team, but when aggressive, he has shown promise as a good post scorer, and effective weak-side defender. He’s an underrated passer who knows how to consistently make the right basketball play. He’ll surprise people with the amount of untapped talent he has. With the possibility of losing Paul Millsap a reality, the Hawks will be a perfect fit.

16. Boston Celtics: Bobby Portis

The Celtics are in desperate need of some toughness in the frontcourt. Bobby Portis has the motor and the defensive ability to fill that need while giving the Celtics much needed post scoring and length down low. With his unique rebounding ability and versatility, Brad Stevens can get more creative on defense, especially with the ability to switch off more on the pick and roll. Portis’ high IQ on both ends and good shooting touch will allow him to make an immediate impact on the court.

17. Milwaukee Bucks: Frank Kaminsky 

Yet another NBA homecoming! Milwaukee has a ton of length, and defense, but they need more of an offensive punch. Kaminsky will provide them with a post scoring option, floor spacing and he’ll be on one of the few teams where he won’t be needed as a defensive presence. Bucks coach Jason Kidd will allow him to play to his strengths, and being near his old stomping grounds will make the comfort level even higher.

18. Houston Rockets: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Hollis-Jefferson is a high-motor player with the defensive ability to guard almost every position on the court. Not a great shooter, but has room to grow, and reminds me a lot of Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green. He has a personality that can raise a team’s chemistry. In the West, the Rockets will face some of the most premier talent in the league, having a versatile defender like Jefferson allows them to take pressure off of James Harden, while maintaining what they want to do on both ends.

19. Washington Wizards: Justin Anderson

With the future of Paul Pierce still murky, the Wizards could look to acquire some talent at the wing position. Anderson will have the body to defend multiple positions from day 1, and with an improved jump shot, will have the ability to stretch the floor. He could improve creating for himself, but with John Wall manning the point guard, he won’t need to as much.

20. Toronto Raptors: Kevon Looney 

The Raptors have been horrible defensively, especially at the wing position. They had the third best offense in the league, but the 23rd ranked defense. Looney brings a bunch of defensive versatility, and a lengthy body that bodes well defending NBA 3’s and 4’s. His ability to stretch the floor and not take anything away offensively makes for a good Amir Johnson replacement.

21. Chicago Bulls: Cameron Payne

I may be in the minority with this, but I don’t think Derrick Rose is the long-term answer for the Chicago Bulls at point guard. With two years left on his contract, and the possibility of a new coach looming, now would be a good time to start forming a new identity. Payne is a true point guard, who is a creative passer and excels in the pick and roll. He’s also a polished scorer who can score off the catch-and-shoot, can finish in the lane and has a good pull-up jumper. He does a great job of getting teammates involved and balancing his passing with scoring ability. Chicago would be wise to bring him in and allow him to learn under Rose for a year while they search for potential trade options.

22. Dallas Mavericks: Robert Upshaw

With Tyson Chandler aged, and set to test free agency, the Mavericks could take a chance on Robert Upshaw. He protects the rim, can get up and down the court and has an average postgame. His off-the-court issues are troubling, but Mavs owner Mark Cuban has taken a chance on guys like Upshaw in the past, and it’s worked pretty well. Upshaw will be a welcomed addition to a team if he can keep it together.

23. Portland Trail Blazers: R.J. Hunter

The Trail Blazers are facing a big summer with Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge and Robin Lopez all set to test free agency. Hunter is a pure shooter who can score in multiple ways, though he can struggle with shot selection at time. He has a lot of defensive potential and has great size that could allow him to defend either wing spot as he gets accustomed to the NBA game. This assures Portland some insurance in case Matthews decides to bolt. They could also aim for a big in this position.

24. Cleveland Cavaliers: Montrezl Harrell

One of the main weaknesses the Cavs have is their defense, specifically with the loss of Anderson Varejao, and the inability of Kevin Love. Tristan Thompson has been having a great playoff run, but with him and Love both set to hit free agency, the Cavaliers could look to Harrell to fill the void. Harrell is athletic, a bit undersized for the 4, but has a huge wingspan to make up for it. His motor, rebounding ability and improving offensive game makes him an interesting option.

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Delon Wright

He fits the bill of a Memphis Grizzlies-type player. Wright is a versatile defender who anticipates well, and has very good lateral quickness. He’s a capable shooter who is efficient from beyond the arc, and has the ability to create for himself.  Wright is a crafty scorer with great length, who can immediately slide in and play next to Mike Conley.

26. San Antonio Spurs: Christian Wood

With Tim Duncan aging and only a season or two left in his career, the Spurs could go on to draft Wood — who is a high-upside player that will need a season or two to develop. Learning from Duncan and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, Woods will have time to develop his raw potential without any pressure on him.

27. Los Angeles Lakers: Rashad Vaughn

After landing their future point guard in Jordan Clarkson in last year’s draft, the Lakers could bring in Vaughn to be Kobe Bryant’s heir. He has the NBA body of a natural shooting guard, can score on and off the ball with his quick release and has great lateral movement on defense. Consistency will be key to him having success at the next level, but he’ll have one hell of a mentor in his ear to help with that.

28. Boston Celtics: Mouhammadou Jaiteh

If Robert Upshaw is taken off the board early, I could envision the Celtics taking a chance on Jaiteh. He has a big frame, good wingspan and has shown rebounding ability on both ends. He knows how to keep the ball high, and can score in the post with both hands. Defensively, he can hold his own in the post and disturb shot attempts, though with limited lift he isn’t a prototypical shot blocker. The Celtics would get a true 5, with talent and upside.

29. Brooklyn Nets: Tyus Jones

The Nets are at a disadvantage after being forced to switch picks with the Atlanta Hawks, and at this stage, will most likely pick the most talented player on the board. I was tempted here to go with Notre Dame’Jerian Grant, but when you consider age, and skill-set, Jones felt like the better pick. Though he’s a little undersized, Jones is a capable shooter, knows how to play the pick and roll well and has proven that he isn’t afraid of the big moment. With Deron Williams‘ injury history, and Jarret Jack nearing the end of his prime, it would be wise for the Nets to start searching for long-term option at the point guard position. Since Williams and Jack are both comfortable playing off the ball at times, Jones can start off as a rotation guy who runs the offense a bit while either of the two play off-ball and look for their offense. Defense is still a concern, and his size does come with legit upside concerns, but at such a young age, he has the tools to be a productive point guard, and will be in a situation where he won’t be thrown into the fire.

30. Golden State Warriors: Terry Rozier 

With the last pick in the first round, the Warriors will most likely go need-based and take Rozier. With Leandro Barbosa set to test free agency, the Warriors could take a flier in Rozier, who’s a talented scorer who can create for himself and others. He’s also a solid 3-point shooter, and is very athletic which allows him to finish at the rim. Defensively he measures out well for a guy his size, and plays the passing lanes well — though he can be a bit of a gambler at time. Consistency and shot selection, like most young prospects, will be something he needs to work on. However, at 21, he still has a lot of upside, and can work his way into becoming the primary sixth man for the Warriors.

 

 

Photo Cred (Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images)

Alex Kungu

Boston-made NBA writer. Future Law student.

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